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Making Results Systems Work Part 2 – A Framework for thinking about Leadership on Results

In part 2 of our 'Making Results Systems Work' series, we’re looking at the ‘software’ side of things and specifically the role of leadership in creating an effective results measurement system.


Last week, we wrote about the different models of results systems. The focus was very much on the ‘hardware’ of results measurement: processes, systems, structures.  Today we’re looking at the ‘software’ side of things and specifically the role of leadership in creating an effective results measurement system.

Time and time again at Itad we have conduct reviews and evaluations of organisation’s results measurement systems and one of the key recommendations is: “there needs to be greater leadership from senior managers.” See here, here, and here for examples.  We know that without strong advocacy from senior managers a result system will struggle to be institutionalised broadly or effectively within an agency.

But what does demonstrating leadership on results measurement actually mean? What does it look like in practices? 

In a recent article for the Journal of Development Effectiveness we suggest that leadership can manifest itself in four ways:

  • Leaders communicating the importance of results measurement
  • Leaders actively requesting results data
  • Leaders resourcing results measurement
  • Leaders demonstrating the use of result data in decisions

Communicating the importance of results is the form of leadership that we see the most in agencies.  Leaders set the tone and direction for an organisation through communicating consistent messages about the importance of results measurement.  This helps reinforce the importance of the issue and motivates changes in staff practices.  But, this is the easiest form of leadership and arguably the shallowest.  Unless it is accompanied by deeper changes in leaders’ behaviour it will be insufficient to support an agency wide results system.

So what else do leaders need to be doing?

Actively requesting results data is important.  Leaders need to be seen to be asking for results data to inform decision making processes.  Similarly, they need to be resourcing their requests for a greater focus on results measurement.  Good measurement requires time and resources. As we saw in our recent evaluation of Norway’s results measurement system, unless the senior management of an organisation is freeing up staff time and resources to focus on results, staff don’t believe there is a real commitment to change and that the messaging is simply rhetoric. Lastly, leading by example and holding up examples of when senior management have used evidence to inform strategic decisions is key. Knowing that senior managers will be demanding, reviewing and using evidence to inform decisions, creates strong incentives to prioritise the measurement of results.

What sorts of leadership on results do you have in your organisation?

Rob Lloyd, March 2015

Read Part 1 – Comparing the Results Measurement Systems of Development Agencies

Read Part 3 – What Drives Evaluation Quality?